Lessons We can Learn from the Government Shutdown
1.) Don’t be indebted to others
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,”
Okay, so Polonius was kind of a jackass, but he has a point here. Politicians have become so tied to their interests, whether corporate or their direct constituents (the people who voted for them in their district), that they fail to make good decisions for the most americans in favor of their sliver of the pie.
Don’t be a slave to your contributors. A donation is not a company investment, it is a sacrifice made on good faith that decisions will be made for the common good.
2.) What is the common good?
Ideology is important. It’s inspired revolutions of many kinds. It’s also promoted genocides.
In the popular meaning, the common good describes a specific “good” that is shared and beneficial for all (or most) members of a given community.
Somewhere along the way, both parties have lost track of what this actually means. We pass reforms for small niche groups that infuriate entire swaths of regions and people.
Now, there are many cases where this is important. The common good shouldn’t become code for “oppress minority opinions”. However, discussion of hard issues has dissipated in favor of bombastic press releases, name-calling and finger-pointing. The common good is a tension to be managed between the needs of the many and the needs of the few.
How do we meet this middle?
3.) Compromise isn’t a dirty word.
Somebody took out a stick and made a line in the sand. Battle lines have been drawn. And whoever crosses into “enemy territory” gets eviscerated by their fellow party allies and the press for being a flip-flopper or a vacillator. These “flip-floppers” are trying to be pragmatic and fulfill their oath to get the best for the most. They’re trying to compromise.
That is a dirty word now in politics. People want their opinions etched in stone like the 10 commandments. And that is not how good decisions are made. Compromise does mean that nobody gets everything they want, BUT it does mean that more people get some of what they want.
This was the problem with the affordable healthcare act in the first place: a democratic majority railroaded the legislation into being, and the other side got angry. Now we are in the mess we have: both sides won’t budge and both are just powerful enough not to compromise us all into gridlock.
Compromise is important to decision making.